J'can is face of AA's global preflight COVID-19 testing programme
Gary Sadler soars again, in league with Oprah Winfrey as super frequent flyerThursday, February 18, 2021
BY DESMOND ALLEN
HIS accent is bound to give him away, but Gary Sadler, one of the most dynamic salesmen to come out of Jamaica, is the just-appointed global ambassador for American Airlines' (AA) preflight COVID-19 test programme — Let's Get Checked.
In a one-minute video playing on all AA flights to every destination across the world, Sadler is the person giving instructions on how to use the airline's at-home COVID test kit that knocks the hassle out of flying safely.
The airline says taking its preflight test will save passengers, who test negative, from having to quarantine at their destination. AA offers 6,800 daily flights to more than 365 destinations in 61 countries, serving more than 200 million customers annually.
Sadler is the senior vice-president behind global sales at Miami-based Unique Vacations Inc (UVI), worldwide representatives for Sandals and Beaches resorts. He rose to that lofty position from his job as a playmaker, attending to elderly guests at Beaches in Jamaica.
Sadler was picked by American for its most elite top-tier Concierge Key traveller programme, because of his status as an extreme frequent flyer. He chalked up an average of 25 days a month pre-COVID, amounting to roughly 250,000 global air miles a year.
Membership in AA's highly exclusive Concierge Key programme is hand-picked and its few designees include American media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Sadler's tenure will run for a year.
News of Sadler's world-beating achievement was immediately hailed by Adam Stewart, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) executive chairman, who has described it as “a huge deal”, and praised him as “an incredible person”.
“Gary is a true superstar and ambassador, not just for Sandals Resorts or Jamaica, his homeland, but for Caribbean tourism at large. With over three decades with Sandals, he is frequently on a plane travelling to promote the region as the destination of choice,” Stewart said.
“We are extremely proud of him, the work he continues to do, and his selection as the face of this new American Airlines campaign, showcasing how AA has reduced a major hurdle to travel during this COVID era.”
The Jamaican dynamo hops on a plane to work, much like an ordinary man takes a taxi, as part of his job as global sales leader at UVI is developing highly successful relations with airlines, tour operators, travel agents and other entities in the hospitality industry network.
“As my late boss used to say, 'If you wait for the business to come, you probably won't get it,' ” Sadler explains. “I'm on an American Airlines flight at least 90 per cent of the time, that is, whenever one is available to reach my destination, whether it's to Macau, Hong Kong or Europe,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
That late boss, to whom Sadler refers, was Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Sandals founder and former chairman who once marvelled at how Sadler, as a young salesman, conquered New York for Sandals, the leading Caribbean hotel brand, “without a driver's licence”.
“…He took the train, the bus, the taxi, hitched a ride; he did whatever it took to get the job done, and conquered New York. He was later sent to Vancouver, Canada, and repeated his successes,” Stewart said then.
“He went on to Toronto and was soon put in charge of the entire Canada,” Stewart recalled at an October 2017 function in Kingston, Jamaica, celebrating Sadler being awarded with the Order of Distinction (OD) in the rank of Officer from the Government of Jamaica.
Sadler started out as a Beaches resort playmaker in Jamaica in 1988, and landed the New York job after three rapid promotions. At the height of his accomplishments, he was appointed senior vice-president for sales at UVI, directing a 100-strong staff. Describing Sadler at the post-OD party, Butch Stewart said at the time: “There is not a bad bone in him. He is one of the hardest-working persons on planet Earth. The harmony, friendships and fantastic relationships he built between the company and customers gets better everywhere he goes.”
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